The following are previews with betting tips for Round 17 of the 2020 AFL season.
Thursday, September 10
St Kilda vs West Coast
7:10 PM , The Gabba
This was always a big game for the Saints, and now that the Eagles have dropped a game they probably should’ve won against the Dogs it’s huge for them as well. Top four is on the line for West Coast, top eight for the Saints. The Eagles need to win both of their remaining two to stand a chance of making it, while the Saints just need one win to lock in a finals berth. And, it must be said, neither club has been all that convincing in their past couple of games. The Saints seem to have hit the wall, while the Eagles in Queensland aren’t anywhere near as dangerous as the Perth-based Eagles. They had plenty of injuries last week, but unfortunately it looks like they’ll need to continue dealing with that: Nic Naitanui and Shannon Hurn return to the side, but they lose all of Dom Sheed, Lewis Jetta, Jack Redden and Mark Hutchings to injury.
That’s a pretty significant blow to their midfield, particularly when Luke Shuey is already out. It leaves a huge burden for Tim Kelly and Andrew Gaff to carry, and even with the help of Nic Nat I’m not sure they’ll be able to cope. The Saints always work hard and will test the depth of this West Coast midfield, and I fully expect some cracks to show. I think it’ll be a close, relatively low-scoring contest—there’s rain forecast—but I can’t tip the Eagles with their current outs; not the Queensland Eagles anyway.
Betting tip: St Kilda to win @ $1.75 (bet365)
Friday, September 11
Geelong vs Richmond
7:50 PM , Metricon Stadium
What a huge game this is—not only is it a potential Grand Final preview in the second last round of the season, but there’s a top four spot on the line. The Cats can probably still make it if they drop this one, but the Tigers need to win. There are some big names returning for both teams as they look to crank things up a notch, with Zach Tuohy and Esava Ratugolea back for the Cats, and Dylan Grimes and Kane Lambert returning for the Tigers.
The Cats haven’t played the Tigers since their 2019 preliminary finals loss, a game they were leading comfortably before the Tigers lifted to a level the Cats couldn’t match. Geelong will be looking for revenge in this one, and they’re in the type of form that might just see them get the better of the reigning champs. That said, I think the Tigers are building really nicely at the moment and are probably gearing themselves up to take a big scalp.
As good as Tom Hawkins and Tom Lynch have been in recent weeks, the game will be won and lost in the midfield. Geelong probably have the edge there at the minute with Patrick Dangerfield in scintillating form and being well supported by Cam Guthrie, Sam Menegola and Mitch Duncan. The Tigers have plenty of their own stars, but they’re not in quite as good form as their Geelong counterparts, and because of that I’ll stick with the Cats here. Geelong by a goal.
Betting tip: Geelong to win @ $1.77 (Unibet)
Saturday, September 12
North Melbourne vs Fremantle
1:45 PM , Metricon Stadium
The Dockers effectively ended Melbourne’s finals hopes with a gritty victory in the wet, and can now finish the season off on a high with two winnable games to come. They should beat the Kangaroos on Saturday; not much has gone right for North in 2020, and it feels like they’ve got their eyes on the finish line. They’ll need to make some big decisions over the off-season so that they can compete in 2021, because they’re pretty much non-competitive at the moment.
Contrast that with Fremantle, who are a young team still building together, but give 100% effort each week and don’t allow any opponent an easy win. That’s the sort of team North should be aspiring to be, though to be fair, they do lack some of the top-end talent that Fremantle possess, and that’s why I can’t see an upset occurring this week; North have no chance beating a team led by Nat Fyfe, Michael Walters and David Mundy. There’s not much at stake for either team, but Freo should win this one easily.
Betting tip: Fremantle to win @ $1.52 (Bet365)
Port Adelaide vs Essendon
4:35 PM , Adelaide Oval
The Bombers have given their supporters yet another season where they have at times shown promise, but ultimately been nowhere near good enough to match it with the big boys. It’s becoming a worrying pattern for the Bombers, and one I’m not sure they’ll be able to break without going through a mini-rebuild. Their list just isn’t strong enough, and with some of their key pillars growing older I can’t see any other way forward.
Port are the blueprint for a quick rebuild, having hit the draft heavily in 2018 and brought in a bunch of young stars. One of those, Zac Butters, will miss this week due to suspension, but that could be a blessing in disguise; a rest for a youngster at this time of year might not be a bad thing. The Power will get the four points against Essendon regardless, particularly as the Bombers will be playing without all of Cale Hooker, Michael Hurley and Dyson Heppell. Joe Daniher returns to the side to provide some forward-half presence, but their problem is going to be down the other end: with Hooker and Hurley out, big Charlie Dixon could have a field day. I’m sure he’ll get plenty of opportunities; if he kicks straight he might end up with a bag of eight, and that should be around the margin Port win by.
Betting tip: Port Adelaide (-30.5) @ $1.91 (Bet365)
GWS vs Melbourne
7:40 PM , The Gabba
Which of these two clubs have been the more disappointing in the past month or so? The Demons, who effectively had a top eight spot all sewn up after they’d trounced the Pies? Or the Giants, who were expected to challenge again in 2020, and despite some indifferent form were still tracking nicely in terms of ladder positon? It’s difficult to say. The Demons have lost to 13th and 15th in their last two games; the Giants just lost to 18th-placed Adelaide. And now they’re both battling to make the eight. The Demons don’t stand a chance if they lose this one, and the Giants will find it difficult, so it’s a must-win for both clubs.
GWS have reacted savagely to their loss to the Crows, making five unforced changes, amongst them skipper Stephen Coniglio. You know things are dire when a team drops their captain, but obviously they feel that he needs a circuit-breaker. The problem is, the Giants have been rotating different guys through the team all year and it doesn’t seem to have made any difference. Maybe this time they land on the right combination, but I’m not holding my breath. I’m just not sure it’s their year, and it’s probably not Melbourne’s either—so who wins this one? Both teams are playing for a chance at finals, but more importantly, for respect. I expect a fierce contest, but I’ll go with the Giants; I can’t see them not responding after the embarrassment of losing to Adelaide.
Betting tip: GWS to win @ $1.72 (Bet365)
Sunday, September 13
Carlton vs Adelaide
1:05 PM , Metricon Stadium
Right now the Crows are managing to make the best of a bad situation; just a week or so ago it looked like they might be the first club since Fitzroy to go through a season win-less, but they’ve now got two on the trot. They were in dire straits, but now things are almost looking positive. This week they take on the Blues, who aren’t travelling much better than the Hawks or the Giants, the two teams Adelaide have managed to beat. That said, this week the Crows will be without Daniel Talia, Tex Walker and David Mackay, which hurts any chances they might have had. The big interest point of this game will be Bryce Gibbs’s final game of AFL footy, and against his old club too. It’ll be a celebration for both clubs; while his career has really tapered out, he was a brilliant player at his peak.
After their come-from-behind win over the Swans, the Blues still have a chance of stealing a top eight spot, but it’s very unlikely. They’d need to beat the Crows by plenty in this one, and then beat the Lions next week. Unfortunately, some of their key players, including skipper Patrick Cripps, just aren’t in good enough form for that to be possible. They’ll surely beat the Crows, but that might be all the Blues have left in 2020.
Hawthorn vs Western Bulldogs
3:35 PM , Adelaide Oval
The Hawks looked like redeeming themselves from their poor loss to the Crows early in the game against the Saints, but they weren’t able to hold on in the end. They get back some key players this week, including Jaeger O’Meara and Ben McEvoy, but they’re up against a Bulldogs side with finals in their sights. A whole bunch of recent results have fallen the Dogs’ way, and those combined with their two point victory over the Eagles leaves the Bulldogs’ fate in their own hands; if they win their final two games, against the Hawks and the Dockers, they’ll make finals.
You’d think that means the Dogs will bring their A-game in both of those games, but they’re a strange side: they seem to play better when there’s no pressure, when they’re expected to lose. So will the lure of a potential finals berth make them play shy? It’ll be interesting to see how they cope, particularly against the experienced Hawks. They got lucky last week with the late withdrawal of Nic Naitanui, but a double team of Jon Ceglar and Ben McEvoy will be tough for Tim English and his midfielder helpers to counter. You’d still expect the Dogs to win, but that ruck imbalance always worries me.
Sydney vs Brisbane
6:10 PM , Cazaly’s Stadium
The Swans got off to a great start against the Blues on Tuesday night, but their 41 point lead mid-way through the second quarter was reeled in by three quarter time, and a tense last quarter ended in a Carlton goal and a Sydney miss to leave the Swans five points short. It’s obviously incredibly disappointing to lose when you’ve got that sort of lead, but I don’t think the Swans will be too discouraged; they’re a growing side playing good footy in patches. They’re only going to get better as time goes on, and they’ll learn from the loss to Carlton.
They’ll probably also learn plenty when they face the Lions this week, a game they’re almost no chance of winning. Brisbane proved in their big win over the Suns they can still play great footy without Harris Andrews holding down the back-line, and they’re not likely to miss him too much against the Swan this week. A win here locks in a top two finish, and I definitely can’t see an upset occurring, as tenacious as Sydney have been. The Lions should win with relative ease.
Betting tip: Brisbane to win @ $1.38 (Bet365)
Monday, September 14
Collingwood vs Gold Coast
7:10 PM , The Gabba
Round 17 closes out with a big Monday night clash between the Pies and the Suns. Collingwood are desperately trying to hang onto their top eight position, and with Port Adelaide awaiting them next week they really need to secure the four points in this one; so what better time for the return of Jordan De Goey, Adam Treloar and Travis Varcoe. De Goey is one of their most important players and Treloar adds so much to their midfield, particularly with Steele Sidebottom still out of the team. Those guys automatically make Collingwood a much more dangerous side, and I expect that’ll show this week: they’ll look so much different against the Suns than they have the last couple of games they’ve played.
They still need a lift from Brodie Grundy, but things are trending in the right direction; all they need to do now is beat the Suns, which you’d expect shouldn’t be too much of an issue. Gold Coast have been brave all year, but they’re looking pretty tired to me. They managed to put in a good effort against the lowly Kangaroos, but I can’t seem them challenging a team like Collingwood.
Betting tip: Collingwood to win @ $1.31 (Sportsbet)
Best Bets of the Round
Brisbane to win @ $1.40 (Bet365)